The first months and years of your child’s life are very important for developing language. Undetected hearing loss is one of the causes of delayed language development. Delayed language can lead to behavioural, cognitive and emotional problems.
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing have a better chance of developing effective language skills when hearing loss is identified early and they receive the support they need.
The Infant Hearing Program delivers various services to identify permanent hearing loss early and provide ongoing support from birth to age six.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, select services within the Infant Hearing Program are being delivered virtually (where possible).
All babies born in a Toronto hospital are offered a free hearing screening, before they leave the hospital. Certain medical and genetic risk factors for hearing loss are also tested through Newborn Screening Ontario.
If you live in Toronto and your baby was not screened in a hospital, or if they need a follow-up test, they will be scheduled into a Community Screening Clinic. Babies are eligible for a community screening by appointment only until they are two months old (corrected age).
Children identified as deaf or hard of hearing may also receive audiology services at various Infant Hearing Program Audiology Clinics across the City of Toronto. These services include:
If your baby is referred for more testing after newborn hearing screening, an Infant Hearing Program audiologist will test their hearing. Further testing may be provided as needed, based on the audiologist’s recommendations..
If your baby is identified as deaf or hard of hearing, an Infant Hearing Program audiologist will select and fit the hearing technology that will best meet their needs.
Family Support Workers offer:
The Infant Hearing Program may also provide family-centred services that include:
If your baby or child has known risk factors for permanent hearing loss and is between two (corrected) to 24 months, they may be eligible for testing through the Infant Hearing Program. Contact Early Abilities to check eligibility.
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, and they do not qualify for testing through the Infant Hearing Program, have their hearing tested by an audiologist in the community. You can contact your baby’s doctor for a referral or visit College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario to find an audiologist. You will want to make sure that the audiologist is used to working with young children.
If your baby is identified with a permanent hearing loss by an audiologist who is not part of the Infant Hearing Program, please obtain a copy of the report and contact Early Abilities. Your family can be referred back to the Infant Hearing Program for provincially-funded supports and services until your child is 6 years old.
If you live outside of Toronto, contact your local Infant Hearing Program.